Sunday, January 29, 2012


History holds a fascination to me.
Our guest at Guild this month collects vintage garments and catalogues.
Now he may be a collector, but he's a storyteller first, and I found myself completely drawn in.
Because he spoke out of his passion, humour was just below the surface adding that irresistible something that is always a part of great conversation.
As he held up dress after dress, passing quickly from decade to decade ever nearer, I found myself remembering my mother's photo album and admiring the outfits.( Men notice the old cars, but woman murmur in admiration over the princess line and matching hat.)
I remember a photo of my mother's sister and friend taken on a long ago summer afternoon.
"Wow, aren't those dresses kind of short?" I teased.
"Dresses?" my mother exclaimed. " Those aren't dresses, they're bathing suits!"

Sunday, January 22, 2012

a thousand springs

Winter in Blue River arrived hard on the heels of a frosty Autumn. Snow fell and fell and fell it seems.
Before long we were running on the crust of the snow over the garden far below, over the fence, and scaling the Himalayas lining the narrow streets; towering banks of snow thrown high by a grader.
Spring was more than an abstract concept. It was a release from the grip of cold and snow.
Winds sweetened. Air warmed and snow began to melt. And it melted and melted.
Slushy water pooled and widened and pussy willows appeared.
Lighter Indian Sweaters were donned, and that brief interval between the season of snow and the season of mosquito was revelled in.
Swollen green leaf buds unfurled.
Birds returned in a flurry.
The seasonal changes here on the coast are gentler, almost unobserved some years. Snow can be elusive, and when it does blanket the ground, it is only a brief time it seems, before it shrinks away as the warm wind inhales.
The grass is bared but another moment of winter may be waiting in the wings.
We have a thousand springs here.

black and white day

The large, dark branches of the evergreens are riding the wind.
The ground is covered in snow as far as eye can see.
A crow is sidling closer to its companions on a street light roost.
It looks like a black and white day.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

that one

This is a photograph of strangers to me, except for one. That one couldn't be dearer. My father is front row, left.
I stared at the photograph today until my eyes filled with tears.
It seems so surreal that time has passed and this group of friends with their arms thrown tiredly around each others shoulders is gone from that place and likely gone from this earth as well.
Don't they look like they have just had a great time together.
My father spoke with such warmth and happy recall when he saw this picture enlarged on the computer screen.
Those boys shared a place in his joyous recall of Blue River days in his late teens.
He was the new kid in town having moved from Drumheller.
His home life was not an easy one.
A quiet boy, naturally athletic, likeable, funny.
And isn't he handsome? He really did have amazing hair, so dark and curly.
It is his smile that makes my eyes fill.
His shy, gentle smile.

Friday, January 20, 2012

dark black night

"Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these broken wings and learn to fly
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to arise.
Blackbird fly, Blackbird fly
Into the light of the dark black night."

the Beatles

modesty and propriety

The first time I saw this photo as an adult, I laughed with self recognition.
I am the little girl with the troubled face.
We were still living in Blue River when this picture was taken beside Dutch Lake in Clearwater.
We were returning home from a trip to Kamloops.
I remember that I wanted to go swimming.
It doesn't look like a warm day, but of course I was from Blue River and that wouldn't have seemed a deterrent at all.
The obstacle to my plan was the lack of a bathing suit.
My mother actually suggested that I swim in my underwear.
Children have a very keen sense of modesty and propriety.
Much keener than at any other age it seems.
A decade later I skinny dipped one warm evening in the cool shady water of Dutch Lake, but that's another story.

brief moment

I love old black and white photos.
This one is of my oldest sister, and there are photos of her aplenty as is usually the case with first borns.

A little girl enjoying a flower in that brief moment of northern summer. A dog looks on with devotion.

Things are not always what they seem.
In reality, the dog used its spare time to run away and chase chickens.

march of winter

Old photos are such a window on the past.
While trolling through family pictures I came upon this one. There are several things to note.
Look at the month printed on the bottom. The camera didn't lie. It was indeed the month of March. In Blue River, March was still the dead of winter.
I am the tiny toddler in the snowsuit with ears. My mother sewed that ensemble out of wonderful woolen fabric, no doubt upcycled from some adult's duffel coat.
My sister is trying in vain to keep me pinned to the sled for the sake of the photographer but I am giving her a run for her money. This attitude was to become a continuing trend.
The little house in the background contained everything I needed to be happy as a child. That childhood happiness, the childhood comfort and joy that rained down on me has sustained me through many an adult dry spell.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

faith and patience

I love this picture of my great grandparents. Don't they look happy?
The stories that I know about them are generously sprinkled with hardship. They raised ten children on the bald old prairies for goodnesss sake. They knew heartbreak and the sort of daily grind that have caused many a couple to trip over each other running for the door.
My grandmother was a woman of great faith and patience. Somehow those two things go together. God tends to keep us waiting. James 1:3 "... the testing of your faith produces patience."

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

on point

 I love how quilt tops look like stained glass when window light shines through them.

I'm making smallish bed quilts, or largish lap quilts for my grandchildren, depending on your perspective. I wanted to work exclusively out of The Stash. I chose sixteen patch blocks to make the best use of scraps. I set them on point because everything looks better on point.

powder blue

winter sky a la mode

A slice of winter sky
 a la mode

winter all around

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

public mischief

I committed public mischief today.
It was certainly easy to do,

The slanting sunlight of afternoon called me out of hibernation.
I had stood longingly before the window several times, wishing for an excuse to go out.
When pale pink light washed over the neighbors snowy expanse of yard I could resist no longer.
On went my boots and out the door I dashed, camera in hand.
I slipped and slid down my driveway and headed up the sidewalk toward a distant patch of sunlight.
It was coming back home that temptation beckoned.
Framed in a large living room window was a small terrier peering at me as I crunched past.
I raised my hand in a friendly wave.
I thought I saw his ears twitch.
That was my undoing.
As I walked on, I paused to turn, rolling my eyes back towards the window with an exaggerated glance.
The little dogs ears shot up and it began to bark.
Half a block away I could still hear it chirping.

Monday, January 16, 2012

front row view

The Pacific Northwest has been collectively holding its breath in anticipation of snow. We have all exhaled this weekend.
Or Arrhhhhhhh.
Depending on your proclivity.
My mother is perched on the couch facing the large, living room windows;
A front row view of the action.

Sunday, January 15, 2012


"Tell me a story," my grandson begged.
"There was once an old mother hen," I began.
"She listened to her eggs and knew they wouldn't be hatching for a while, so she went off to find a nice worm for breakfast."
"Yuck," my little granddaughter interupted, her voice tinged with girlish horror.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

mist of time

This is a rather blurry picture of my great, great, great grandfather, but of course it is being viewed through the mist of time........
His name was Barnabas Ray. He was born in 1804, the first son of Hudson and Margret Ray.
He is not the husband of the great, great, great grandmother pictured previously as he is from an entirely different branch of the family tree.
He is however, the great grandfather of my grandmother, pictured previously, branches eventually merging as they do.
He is remembered for being the father of seventeen children. He married his first wife in his late teens. She promptly produced seven children and then died young, poor thing. Four months later he married again, this time to my great, great, great grandmother Lucy, an ample and prolific woman.
They had ten children together, and Isaac was their second son. He married Hulda Lyons and followed in his fathers footsteps by having a large family, including twins.

My great grandfather was one of their sons. He was the husband of Minerva Haddock, from the previous photos. And of course that makes him the father of my grandmother Mollie and the grandfather of my mother Norma.
He is remembered for many, many things. Stories abound, but his early baldness is the most repeated historical fact. Isn't that just like life.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

fab five

 Great-great-great grandmother Eliza
Great-great grandmother Minerva
Great grandmother Minerva
Grandmother Mollie
Mother Norma

part two

Quilters have unfinished projects.
No truer words were ever spoken.
Some of us have many unfinished projects. There is no shame in this, rather it is a barometer of sorts. A method of measuring. If we folded all of our unfinished projects into a neat stack, they should be approximately half of our height and weight.
A creative mind needs that sort of variety.
One must not let a compulsion to complete, interfere with a compulsion to create. It is not unlike the new approach in school classes to simply write, without pausing to consider rules of grammar and spelling. Just get thoughts down, and come back later to tweak and improve. Similarly, quilters slice and dice, press and piece and voila, a quilt top emerges. We come back later, sometimes much later to sandwich and "quilt as desired." The secret I think, is to look at the finishing as a creative endeavor as well. To try something different and scary. To stretch and learn.
This January, buoyed by the fresh winds of the New Year, I am resolving to turn a few unfinished projects into creative endeavors, part two.
I have included for your approval, a project begun in 2009 and left to ripen on the tree. It is ready now, and I will try free motion quilting its vast expanse. I will try not to pick out any stitches. It seems the right quilt for this honor, marked as it is by lessons learned the hard way.
It is flawed though beautiful.
It will soon be flawed but finished

Monday, January 9, 2012

upper hand

I had an early shift today and so I hurtled off into the cold dark of morning. I must have pulled the short straw because I found myself behind the wheel of the truck.
In the light of day, the truck and I have formed an uneasy alliance, but in the dim light of dawn, the truck has the upper hand. I found myself adjusting dials and switches as though by braille, never completely sure in this unfamiliar territory.
A strange radio, of course, is the worst of all. No preset stations to entertain and comfort. I found myself stabbing at the scan and seek buttons while listening forlornly to a garble of assorted music and news. I eventually gave up much to the trucks delight and I listened to Madonna and Micheal Jackson as the last few miles of my commute flew by. I don't think I have ever really listened to the lyrics of Super Natural before, or Vogue for that matter. "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em."

Sunday, January 8, 2012

backdrop for memory

What do the colours we surround ourselves with say, I wonder.
For many years, we lived in a townhouse with curtains the colour of papaya, rich and warm.
The walls were as creamy as the inside of a seashell.
And our sofa was a deep, dark blue that was almost green.
I never tired of those colors.
And just remembering it tonight makes me feel surprisingly nostalgic.
Almost home sick.
My husband made the couch and most of the furniture in that little place.
It was a cosy home filled with golden pine.
It felt right after twenty years to move on though.
We expanded into a house.
Our floors are hardwood now so there is still the feeling of wood, but the golden glow is gone, dispersed through many rooms rather than concentrated into a small space as it was.
We have introduced some interesting painted pieces, all with stories.
Now we are surrounded with greens; muted, fernlike, even avocado.
My china cabinet is pale birds egg blue and my side tables are creamy yellow.
I like colour.
I like the unexpected, the hand crafted.
The colour around us every day becomes a back drop for memory.

a bit of winter

Three years ago, winter smiled on us and we had snow aplenty for a wee while.
Wonderful white winter weather.
Sure would love a bit of winter before we shift gears into spring.
Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.

Saturday, January 7, 2012


I love driving in the car with my grandchildren. We notice things.
My grandson noticed the speedometer from his perch in the back seat and called out the fluctuating numbers which I modified and explained by turns. Now that's a back seat driver.
I noticed geese flying overhead.
"Look," I cried joyously. "Geese."
"Why are they flying in a V?" I queried.
"V is for vacation, like migration," my grandson informed me.


I remember not wanting food to touch each other on my plate as a child.
Salad tainted by sauce was a tragedy;
Beet juice eddying near the potatoes a grave concern.
Strangely enough, I grew up to be a woman who loves casseroles and stew and rice bowl.
These gray days of the New Year call out for the warm, rich flavours of one pot meals;
The sweet smell of supper simmering;
Ladles full of colour;
Chunks of crusty bread;
Vegetables, comfortingly tender.
I didn't like soup as a child either, but that's a whole new post.

Friday, January 6, 2012

and treasured

Days aren't bits and pieces
tossed over our shoulders
and forgotten.
They are gems
threaded onto a string
and treasured.

up, up and away

I've been feeling well in body but considerably rumpled up in spirit, to quote Anne of Green Gables.
You know that wild eyed feeling.
Like a cat with its fur rubbed the wrong way, or a chicken with ruffled feathers.
I consoled myself with a little stroll through blogdom.
I could feel my spirits rise like the temperature on a July afternoon.
Up, up and away.

Monday, January 2, 2012

not so bare

Can we talk about dust?
I am not a thorough and conscientious house keeper.
Still, there is a minimum standard that I try to slide in under.
I do always carefully dust and rearrange as I place Christmas decorations about the house mind you.
The shelves and mantel are usually resplendent with boughs and bling.
This year though, the week before Christmas arrived without the usual fanfare.
I had done no baking, decorating or shopping.
Some thing had to go, and it was the dusting and the boughs.
Decorations were placed on the bare shelves.
Well, not so bare.
I took a few pictures, thinking to share abit of Yule with you, and when those snapshots of the season were cast in vivid color on the computer screen I recoiled in horror.
You can only crop so much.

Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house,
Not a creature was stirring because of the dust....

still all there

The longer you keep something, the less likely it is to be thrown away.
This is the principle of the Christmas box, or boxes as the case may be.
Ornaments tend to accumulate over the years.
Dough art pressed and painted by tiny hands, the vintage, the hand made.
Our tree looked much the same for a couple decades.
There were ornaments that just had to be hung or it wasn't Christmas.
Eventually, the crocheted snowflakes eclipsed the rest.
Wooden ornaments have gradually replaced the others.
I kind of like this gradual evolution, this slow change.
The Christmas boxes remain unchanged though.
The loot is still all there.
Like a time capsule.
In fact, there has been an item or two over the years that I put purposely in the Christmas box to keep safe from myself. To keep it safe from those fits of 'clean it up and throw it out.' Somehow, the Christmas box is off limits, sacred.
Perhaps one year I will take it all out and hang it on the tree at once. It'll be lavish and over the top and full of nostalgia.
Sounds like Christmas.

surrounded and upheld

We sat in church New Years morning.
It was a moment of calm.
Perhaps more calm than we have grown accustomed to this fall and winter.
I leaned over, nudging my husbands shoulder.
His eyes slid sideways.
"I was just checking to see if you were still breathing," I whispered.
His smile was wan.
"There was no detectable brain activity," I added.
His eyes twinkled briefly.
My husband just keeps putting one foot in front of the other.
He has reached the end of his rope so often that he must be accustomed to the feeling of dangling over the edge.
We will reach a vantage point, some distant bend in the road from whence we will glance back and see the walls scaled.
It could not have been done alone.
We have been surrounded and upheld.

plums and tangerines

The sun rises.
There is such beauty in its light.
The morning sky is ripe and richly coloured.
Plums and tangerines.
A great molten sea, before it fades to gray.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

stick to vanilla

I can't believe I need reading glasses.
And I'm so young.
I suppose that is partly to blame for the cookie calamity.
The glasses part, not the young part.
Well, actually, I was tired and not paying attention when it happened. Cooking while tired is not without its hazards.
I dont' believe glasses would have helped after all. We see what we think we see.
I thought I saw almond extract.
It was actually peppermint.
I didn't notice while I stirred and mixed.
It was only upon reaching the heat of the oven that the essential oils did what they do so well.
Of course, as always,  lessons were learned.
I learned that Christmas cookie recipes can not be tampered with.
Once trained, our taste buds become set in their ways.
I learned that we don't like peppermint cookies.
But, my grandchildren, who have taste buds that are still open minded, didn't mind them at all.
And I learned, when in doubt, stick to vanilla.

a knack for it

My mother's craft room had everything you could ever want and more.
This fall, as we sorted and shifted, a pattern for dinosaurs surfaced.
The packet cover featured three brightly colored stuffed toys.
She showed the pattern to me in the days leading up to Christmas more than once, and I knew she was wishing that she could make them for my grandchildren.
She has sewn since she was very young. She just had a knack for it. Her mother's treadle machine pumped out all manner of fabric finery.
But, her memory of how to sew has been swept away with so many other memories.
I suppose because all skill is laid down in our memory a layer at a time, and built upon, it should not be surprising that skill can be lost.
I am thankful that I learned to sew and that my mother can still vicariously enjoy watching the magical transformation of fabric into craft, fabric into art.
Two days before Christmas I pulled out a piece of polar fleece and cut out two stegosaurus.
"If I cut them both out at once and sew them like an assembly line, I think we can do it," I promised.
My mother cheered me on and was soon wielding the stuffing and choosing buttons for eyes.
Who knew dinosaurs could be cute?
"They look like pillows," I crowed when they finally stood under the Christmas tree.
"I think they are something even a teenager could lean against in bed while reading," I mused.
It was very special indeed to present them to my grandchildren Christmas morning, a gift from both grandmas.
Christmas night, my daughter tip toed into my granddaughter's room and found her fast asleep, her head on the stegosaurus.
In the next room, my grandson was asleep as well with a stegosaurus covering his face.
Choosing a gift that delights the heart is a knack.
My mom still has it.

so many possiblities

A perfect first post for the New Year;  So many possibilities